Dug this one out from the Long Distance Creationship archives and I’m still so in love with it that it hurts a little bit.
They roll in like dark marbles, black and grey and deep purple. A green, for envy, every once in a while. If she could feel anything when she looked at them, it would be fear. She knows this because she’s tried fear (yellow) before and now she can put a name to it. The black should be the worst, an all-consuming sadness, but it’s the greys she really tries to avoid. They’re nothing, they’re empty, they’re the absence of anything at all. And she already knows what that feels like.
She stares at the wall of tiny, twinkling emotions, noting down the colours as she sees them in an old book open on her lap. No anger today. Anger is fleeting. It’s gone before they can ball it up and send it to her and if it’s the sort that lingers and finds its way to the tubes that lead to her, she knows to leave well alone. But there’s no burning red spheres today. No fear either, because they beat that on their own most of the time. She’s never seen hate because she knows that’s something people like to cling to. She’s been told it’s orange, though she’s not sure why.
Seven so far today. That’s more than usual. But nothing she’s going to try. They’re not really for her anyway.
She closes the book and slides it onto the shelf to her left, before pushing herself backwards until she leans against the wall. Her legs stretch out in front of her and she lets her eyes blur the colours of the emotions together. They say they’re working on a way to extract mixed feelings, to give people a chance to examine their emotions a little closer, instead of just picking one to get rid of. Maybe then people will make better decisions. But she knows that once they figure it out, mixed feelings will, most likely, just end up here. They make life difficult and people don’t want that. She imagines they’ll look something like the wall does when she stops focusing her eyes.
A rolling sound. She sits up a little straighter and looks towards the tube that brings the new arrivals. It slides down, two gentle bumps as it’s deposited into the wall and is stopped by its new neighbour.
“Gold,” she whispers.
She had never felt before. Not until she wound up in this place. Things happened but she couldn’t react the way she saw the others do. So they took her away and they looked in her head and then they left her here, where all the unwanted feelings go. Because she, like them, is unwanted. Sadness, jealousy, fear, loneliness, her. They have no place in the bright world above, where everyone is motivated and content and loved and…
“Gold,” she repeats the word, moving towards the wall.
There is a feeling called anticipation. It’s a little like fear, they say, but nicer. She has never seen it because it builds and builds and then it disappears, but she thinks that it’s what she should feel now. Desire, too, she thinks. She imagines it as a deep red, wanting something so much it hurts.
Gold she has committed to memory. Gold is never seen below ground. No one gives up their Gold.
She shrinks back at the idea. What if this was not freely given, but taken? Her fingers twitch, unconsciously reaching for the coloured balls she knows would convey how she’s supposed to feel. Uncertain, the man torn between two women. Guilty, the woman who blames herself for the accident. Greed, which no one has ever sent, because it’s too ingrained in them for them to notice it. And something she can’t name, a little voice at the back of her head that says she deserves this. After years of darkness and sadness and emptiness, someone has given her Gold.
She scrambles forward, her body betraying emotions her head won’t let her feel. Her hand dances lightly across the other balls, each gentle twinkle of nail against glass sending a brief blast of the memory it contains to her. She wonders if she’s trying to stop herself, but when her hand halts in front of Gold, she knows nothing could have prevented this.
She reaches out a finger and presses it firmly against the ball. It is small but it is strong. A sunset, a beach, a book. There is laughter from somewhere behind, a drink with a tiny umbrella. Peace, contentment. Happiness. Gold.
She draws back as the edges of the vision begin to blur, not wanting to waste it all, and as she does, the bright light on the wall dims a little. So small, so sweet, so simple. Bad feelings are complicated, conflicted. But this was pure and easy and she can still feel it.
She touches her face, to feel where her mouth has tilted slightly into a smile. It’s stiff and strange, but it lingers. The air around her feels colder now, removed from the gentle warmth of the sun, but inside, inside she’s dancing.
It was a gift. That much she is sure of. There was something about the moment, the brevity, the simplicity, that says whoever read that book by that beach had plenty to share. Someone up there knows about her and has given her this. Someone has shared their Gold with her. And when she thinks that, the glow inside her grows. She breathes deeply, as if she could push it around her body in her blood stream, pump it to every part of her. She relaxes back into her smile.
She reaches back for her notebook, never taking her eyes from the tiny golden orb. She flips the book open and makes a note of its arrival time and its contents. She clutches the notebook to her chest and gazes at the Gold. Even a little drained, it still shines brighter than the rest.